How To Overcome Fear Of Public Speaking
The fear of speaking in public is very common. Sufferers become some anxious about looking foolish to their audience that they can even develop physical symptoms such as shaking and nausea. In severe cases, a person may even suffer an anxiety attack. Some people with a fear of public speaking manage to avoid the situation all together. Unfortunately, this is not possible for everybody. In fact, most people will have to speak in a public forum at least once. For a few people, all they need to overcome their fear is a bit of practice. For others, the fear is more deeply rooted and they must work to triumph over this phobia. If you are in the latter group, there is still hope. There are steps that you can take to survive public speaking. You may not lose your fear completely, but you can developing coping skills and strategies.
Defining your Fear
Try to think in more detail beyond the fact that you are simply afraid of speaking in public? Are you afraid to speak up and answer a question from your desk in the classroom, or does your fear only kick in when you are standing at the front of the room delivering a report? Do you feel panicked at the thought of asking a question in a staff meeting, or just at the thought of delivering a business presentation? Are you intimidated only by speaking to large groups, small groups, or both? If you know the people in your audience does that make you feel more or less comfortable?
If you know when your fear is most likely to be triggered, you will know to prepare yourself. If you can recognize when a situation isn’t going to be as scary for you, you can avoid ‘whipping yourself into a frenzy’.
Making sure Everything is in Place
If you have a fear of public speaking, preparation is key. Any small thing such as forgotten detail, presentation slide out of order, an unexpected question from the audience, or a technical difficulty with the A.V. system can trigger anxiety. This can quickly snowball into disaster. So, make sure you do several practice runs in the days leading up to your speech. This way you will have most of your speech memorized, and you will have worked out any complications. A speech that goes smoothly is also a speech that goes quickly which is definitely a bonus.
Make Yourself Comfortable
On the day of your speech dress in something that is as comfortable as possible. If you tend to sweat, wear clothing that breaths. If you are able to, adjust the temperature in the conference room.
Join an Organization like Toastmasters
If you would truly like to overcome your fear of speaking, or if you are pursuing a career field that is going to require that you speak in public frequently, you should consider joining Toastmasters. You will meet with others who wish to improve their public speaking abilities, and can practice this skill in a supportive environment.
Get Outside Help
If your fear of speaking publicly is handicapping your ability to function, pass your classes, or make headway in your career, it may be time to seek counseling. A trained therapist may be able to give you coping strategies to get through situations in which you will be speaking in front of others. If your anxiety is severe, or part of other symptoms, they may even refer you for further evaluation by a medical professional.
If you are a student with an anxiety diagnosis or an IEP that indicates that public speaking may be difficult for you, you may qualify for an accommodation. This might include being allowed to deliver your speech to the teacher or a smaller group. You can contact your academic advisor for more information.
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